Friday, March 27, 2009

MINIMALIST / SHRINKAGE MOVEMENT IN COMPUTING, No. 3 of 8 ... FREE Pirate SOFTWARE to Go Along with Your Cheap Laptop?

This series of articles is based on the philosophy of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as expressed in his motto "Less is more." This is not just an expediency to get through an economic depression, it is a way out of the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Sooner or later, all of us, from President Obama on down, are going to have to consider this. Computers are a good place to start.

Anonymity for Users of Pirate Bay:
Anonymity soon will be possible for users of the site Pirate Bay, which has all kinds of software and other interesting content for free, for your cheap mini-laptop. The workaround is called IPREDator and should be available before April 1 (no fooling).

This is a way to get around recent legal initiatives of Sweden's (where they are located) government. Sweden is supposed to start implementing the European Union's IPRED directive on April 1, so IPREDator is Pirate's Bay's preemptive strike.

IPREDator from Pirate Bay is a VPN to cloak users. It will allow users to be identified under a different IP address than their own. Since the service won't store traffic data, the cloaking will make it difficult for Swedish courts and others to ID so-called pirates.

What this means is that now even free software has a slight cost, as IPREDator will cost 5 euros (about $6.77) per month.

Monday, March 16, 2009


This series of articles is based on the philosophy of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as expressed in his motto "Less is more." This is not just an expediency to get through an economic depression, it is a way out of the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Sooner or later, all of us, from President Obama on down, are going to have to consider this. Computers are a good place to start.

Mass-produced computers can KILL Microsoft and free the world's computer users. They'll be too cheap to accommodate MS Windows -- MS's bread and butter. Computers will go the way of TVs and VCRs -- cheap offshore (non-USA) production. They'll be cheap, simple, general-purpose (FREE SOFTWARE), all-electronic (no disk drive) -- in other words, real electronic computers, finally.

This process already is under way. Note how Microsoft's stock price has declined over the past 5 years.

If you like this idea, remember, above all, avoid Microsoft traps like the "Windows XP Starter Edition." It's a $30 loss-leader for developing nations -- with price-gouging to begin soon after. If you are outside the USA, be like Munich, Germany -- declare your freedom by going open-source for your enterprise. Beware of the US spies at the USAID and beware Microsoft's so-called "Local Economic Development Program for Software," which is insurgent in Brazil and Jordan. Read a US judge's decision on how MS strangles the US market ( and avoid this for your country.

A respected US group, the Gartner Group, warns against the Windows "Starter Edition" at .

To read about Microsoft's designs on your country, see . The head of the USAID (US Agency for International Development) is Andrew Natsios, a nephew of famed CIA spy Nicholas Natsios.

For non-US persons looking for freedom from Microsoft for their enterprise, consider the Munich example at: and Germany's example at,1564,568696,00.html . Bergen, Norway's second city, is planning to switch its computers to Linux.

For balls, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballsmer has threatened Asian countries -- sovereign nations, mind you -- with lawsuits if they employ the Linux open-sourse operating system. He threatens them under the aegis of the World Trade Organization.

However, the hundred-dollar Linux computer will be the end of Microsoft's dominance and possibly the company itself. Do you care? Can the Indian MOBILIS beat Microsoft? Can Wal-Mart beat Microsoft in America? Since you are reading this on a computer, you are a slave to MS and you should care. Freeing us from MS and its robber baron could raise the US productivity by several points. It can free foreign governments from aggression by Microsoft. I'll show how. To have fun, usable, efficient computers, it is necessary. To finally realize the dream that Bill Gates aborted, we need a computer that is: Cheap----Instant-On----Simple----General Purpose.... India has one, for $200 ("good globalization"). We (the rest of the world) don't. This might not be the machine, but more are coming, and they will starve Microsoft.

At $100 or $200 there is no room for Windows, unless MS gives away its XP "Special Edition" or its CE -- as a trap.

If the computer becoming a commodity is a threat to MS, the company is only encouraging that trend with its foray into home entertainment. They are doing this for one reason: to keep game consoles from competing with PCs and Windows. That's why you won't see windows on game boxes. This will backfire. No American company can long make money in the manufacturing and marketing of home entertainment. It will be "deja vu all over again": When a new must-have Next Big Thing makes a market in the US, the Asians make it and take it. (The list is long and started with the transistor: portable radios, all radios, B&W TVs, color TVs, VCRs, CD players, digital clocks, watches, cameras -- and now, the computer.) Home entertainment systems are a booby trap for American companies and they will be for MS, too. Microsoft's participation in this will help ensure the commoditization of computing -- the opposite of what they planned.

At $100 or $200 there is no room for Windows and Microsoft, because the price charged manufacturers -- $70 to $83 for each computer using Windows -- precludes it. That is a tax that most of us have to pay when we buy a computer. Microsoft also has a $30 Windows XP version for what they call "entry computers" in developing countries ONLY -- but it is a trap -- much higher prices, like subscription charges, will follow. DON'T FALL FOR THE $30 WINDOWS "STARTER EDITION" TRAP!

... Today's "personal computer" is not even a true computer, in that it is not a general-purpose device but a proprietary Wintel (Windows and Intel, working in collusion) device. The PC is a corrupted version of the microcomputer vision that we had in the 1970s. I was there. That vision failed when Microsoft pirated away the microcomputer/small computer/home computer as we variously called it. I will show that we have the tools to take back the vision of the computer as a universally available intellectual tool -- take it back from Bill Gates, the Blue Beard of computing. I will show that globalization is not all bad. It will take more than Linux or free open-source software (FOSS), much more, as explained below.

Famous computer visionary Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab is developing and promoting a $100 laptop with proposed specifications including a 500-MHz processor, 1 GB of memory, an XVGA display, and free Linux. He envisions 200,000,000 million of them being distributed to countries like China in two years. However, the Indian company Encore Software already is marketing a small computer, the MOBILIS, with much more modest specs, for about $220. The Mobilis may not have the features many of you want, but it is a crack in the dam. As cheap computers flood the US, upgraded versions soon will appear -- much cheaper because of no MS tax -- and much better. Both of the above computers employ the open-source Linux operating system (OS). already sells a good, cheap OS-LESS computer -- you get to choose one. These machines might not change the world, and nonproprietary operating systems besides Linux might become more important, but all this shows what is coming.


The Indian Mobilis has some of them. They include:

1. Cheap (nearly free) nonproprietary operating system (Linux or other) and cheap nonproprietary basic applications -- word processor, browser, etc. --- This would make the small computer a general-purpose device, as a computer should be -- not tied to Microsoft, Apple, or Palm. Above all, the small computer must AVOID MICROSOFT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND BE ABLE TO PROVE THIS IN A COURT OF LAW. Microsoft basically is a publishing company full of lawyers. (Did you ever see a publishing company get this big or a publisher get as wealthy? Not even Hearst of "Citizen Kane." They exploit the law and technological ignorance.) Avoid Apple, Microsoft, and all proprietary software as much as possible. An operating system is one of those things you shouldn't have to pay for -- certainly not on the basis that the publisher (Microsoft) excludes other software companies from YOUR computer. You don't pay for an OS when you buy home entertainment devices (though some probably would like to put an OS in a kitchen toaster).

2. Instant-on operation --- no waiting for the OS to load from a hard drive. Keep the OS small enough to fit economically in nonvolatile solid-state memory (flash, etc.).

3. At last, an ELECTRONIC computer. --- What we have now, the PC, includes an electromechanical device, the motorized hard drive -- an electromagnetic device like the relays in the Harvard Mark I of 1943. With "general purposeness" and all-electronic operation (OS on chips, not a disk drive), we would finally have something that meets the traditional definition of a real electronic computer. Watch the price of flash memory go down and you will see the possibilities for taking the "D" out of "DOS."

4. Simplicity. --- Since the operating system would be on semiconductor chips, it would be much smaller than the monstrous "whatever the traffic will bear" Windows. A small operating system is a simple one. Remember DOS and the early computers? To start "computing" (limited, admittedly), one had only to know how to turn on the power switch and insert the boot disk. Computer simplicity alone could add several points to a nation's labor productivity.

5. Driver software for common hardware such as Epson printers and HP scanners.

6. Ability to view, print, edit, and exchange files in Microsoft formats (.doc, .xls, etc.) and to convert to and from standard file formats, including proprietary ones where legal.

7. Ports for expandability to include connectivity (modem, Ethernet, etc.), hardware devices (printer, scanner, etc.), and more storage (e.g., Lexar JumpDrives). The Mobilis uses UPS for expansion.

[THIS IS ONE OF THOSE "I TOLD YOU SO" ARTICLES. I published it 3 years ago at under the pseudonym Kurt Kress, and after 3 years I wonder, How did I do?]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

MINIMALIST / SHRINKAGE MOVEMENT IN COMPUTING, No. 1 of 8: All-China 400s ... Cheapest Laptops / Notebooks / Netbooks ... ($129 Plus Shipping)

This series of articles is based on the philosophy of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as expressed in his motto "Less is more." This is not just an expediency to get through an economic depression, it is a way out of the current Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Sooner or later, all of us, from President Obama on down, are going to have to consider this. Computers are a good place to start.

At the request of a reader, here are free-to-use photos of the Alpha 400 along with a list of Alpha-400 clones -- the ALL-CHINA 400s, I call them. Despite all the talk of ARM-architecture processors from QualComm and Texas Instruments moving in from the smartphones and MIDs and taking over the low end of the laptop market, they can't yet come close in price.

They might never take over because an all-Chinese solution like the Alpha 400 (photos) will prove hard to beat in pricing. By "all-Chinese" I mean Chinese processors, Chinese software, and Chinese assembly.

Do I recommend what I am writing about? Yes, yes, yes -- by all means buy one. Now, I am all about tightwad computing rather than power computing, but that doesn't mean the tightwad buyer can completely ignore specifications -- at least features and connection ports. The Alpha 400 has it all ... can take the place of a full-size computer most of the time for me. Most of these devices are like that. But when bottom-feeding, watch out for other laptops that don't support Adobe Flash. If you don't need that, then by all means go for the cheapest.

Another thing to watch is connectivity. For just $129, you can get an Impulse NPX-9000 from Impulse Global. You'll have to communicate with it via USB, however, as it has no built-in WiFi or RJ45. Impulse sells a WiFi dongle for $12. There are three USB 2.0 ports and a flash viewer. The Impulse uses the Marvell XScale ARM-type CPU (Marvell bought the business from Intel in 2006). It is supposed to be available for $150 for one (sample price), but Lysha Panjabi at the distributor Carapelli Computers Ltd. told me they would sell just one for $129 plus shipping. Again, thats for just one. Contact Lysha at Carapelli dot net.

The J-Pro JL7100 (Samsung ARM 9-based) is a great buy at $99 -- but that's in quantities. You can get a sample unit for $149. It has an RJ45 LAN port for DSL. There are 3 USB ports. For WiFi, you would need to buy a WiFi dongle. You can see it at . Join Technology also offers a 7200 model mini laptop that has been updated with WiFi, for more money of course.

AND HERE'S MY UPDATED LIST (If you can add any, please let me know.) I will keep adding mini laptops until we get up to about 30 or so....

* Bestlink (or Belco) Alpha 400 (Hong Kong)
* CnM Minibook (CnMBook) (UK)
* Elonex One T (One T+) (UK)
* HiVision Mininote (Hong Kong [office], Shenzhen [factory])
* Impulse NPX-9000 (Guangzhou, China)
* JAY-tech Jee-PC 400S (Germany)
* J-Pro (JoinTech) JL7100 (Hong Kong)
* Letux 400 Linux Minibook (Germany) (Golden Delicious Computers)
* Maplin Minibook (UK)
* Novatech Minibook (UK) (Not available?)
* Razorbook, 3K Computers (Boca Raton, Florida)
* Silverstar E-PC (UK)
* Skytone Alpha 400 (Guangzhou, China)
* SurfOne INOS1 (France)
* Trendtac 700 EPC (EPC700) (Netherlands)
* Yinlips Micro PC (Shenzhen, China)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Linux Share of Netbooks DOWN to 10%, BUT I'm Encouraged

This just in ... an article that says, "Windows on 90% of Netbooks, Linux on Just 10%." The research from market analysts at NPD covers the last three months of 2008.,+Linux+on+Just+10%25&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

Earlier reports had said that Linux had a 30% share earlier last year.

It turns out that people have been returning Linux laptops 4 times more often than Windows ones.


The fact is, the "netbook" has been a scam all along. It was intended as a distractor, a "loss leader" from the major brands to discourage the marketing of much cheaper notebooks, ones below $200. But that is just trying to allay the inevitable, the inexorable trend toward MINIMALISM in computers. This is a fact all in the industry will have to face this year.

Getting rid of this distractor actually is a good thing. Perhaps soon the major media can begin focusing on the real trend in low-cost computing, the race to the bottom and computers for $100 and less, once we all face facts on the netbooks.

For now, the 400-MHz performance level looks like what will begin the race to the bottom -- the Belco Alpha 400, 3K Razorbook, the HiVision MiniNote, the Elonex ONEt, and all the clones of these. The first PC consistently priced at the $100 point probably will run at this 400-MHz level.

Prices will get much, much lower, but with reduced size and speed and fewer features. There already is one model you can get for $129 plus shipping, buying just one unit.

The "netbook"? Good riddance. (Clayton L. Hallmark)

Friday, March 6, 2009

1 GH, 512 MB RAM, 30 GB, $256

That's a lot of performance for $256. Good things come in small packages: Uses Windows XP, but the price and size (7-inch screen) are right and you can install Linux yourself. This HCL minilaptop has wireless, LAN, and 56K connectivity.

The 7-inch HCL is said to be the cheapest laptop in the UK. That's the catch, you have to be in the UK or Ireland.

Compare this to the best price-performance deal you can find in the US. C'mon Best Buy and Walmart, give us a break! For more, see:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free Intel Netbooks at the Big CeBit Show in Germany?

Have we arrived at Valhalla yet? Not exactly. It's just Hanover Germany and the world's largest computer trade show, CeBit -- makes CES Las Vegas look like a side show. My title's just a machine translation of "Intel-free." (Well, add in Microsoft, and that is almost Valhalla).

There yesterday, in one photo, were the German head of state, Angela Merkel, the California head of state Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Intel head of state, Craig Barrett, shaking hands with Marvin the robot.

More important, at CeBit also is our own HiVision XBurst-powered, Linux-running mini-laptop. The number of exhibitors is down by about 25% to 4300 companies because of the GFC (Global Financial Crisis, aka "end of the cyberfinance economy"); but the 400-MHz MIPS platform was represented, according to this article from WinFuture (Germany). Click here.

The significance of the HiVision mini-laptop and the other MIPS 400 machines is of course that they are the heirs to the original netbook concept, really cheap computers under $200.

The article points that, while the major computer manufacturers rely in the design of netbooks almost exclusively on Intel's Atom processor set, there are smaller suppliers from Asia with alternative CPUs.

In the coming months there will probably be many models with VIA chips on the market. But x86 CPUs from various Asian manufacturers could play a role. That suggests, at least from exhibits at the CeBIT show, this deserves a closer look. To what extent this also affects the German market remains to be seen, according to the article.

The article includes the HiVision netbook featured in the blog, which of course uses still another Intel alternative, the Chinese XBurst chip (JV4740) from Ingenic. Being a MIPS processor, the latter doesn't do Windows, either, so it's Windows-free as well. Like West Virginia, that *is* almost Valhalla. This also suggests that the MIPS 400 movement is growing, especially in Europe, but also worldwide.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flat $159 and Free Shipping

Alpha 400 for $159 with free shipping is available at BUY.COM.

This is a limited-time offer on the site. The supplier is the well known, who have the Alpha 400 on their own site for $169.99, with shipping extra.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sakar: Could be a real sleeper. Laptop Mag: "Intriguing" See Video Here

Hands-on video of Sakar 400 Mini-Laptop

"At $299, definitely intriguing," says Dana Wollman of Laptop Magazine. Watch Dana put the Sakar 400 MiniBook through its paces.


What makes this a real "sleeper"? This is a 400-MHz MIPS that you might soon see at "Justice" and "Limited Too" stores for "tweens," or most anywhere if Sakar puts it in all the places where it sells cameras and MP3s. Could become the most widely available computers if Sakar does this, a real breakthrough. Just think of it -- a cheap computer you can buy anywhere.